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Inside Scoop on Franklin & Marshall?

Sally_RubenstoneSally_Rubenstone CC Admissions Expert Posts: 3,706 Senior Member
Can anyone associated with Franklin & Marshall (current students, alums, parents, faculty, staff ... ) tell me what sets F&M apart from other similar-seeming schools--especially "competitor" colleges such as Hamilton, Bucknell, Lafayette, Dickinson, Lafayette, etc.?

Anything else I should know (good or bad) about F&M (or about Lancaster) ... particularly things that the guidebooks and info sessions might not tell me?

Post edited by Sally_Rubenstone on

Replies to: Inside Scoop on Franklin & Marshall?

  • BrownEyesBrownEyes Registered User Posts: 130 Junior Member
    My S discovered Franklin & Marshall College based on his interest in studying Gov't/Economics/Public Policy - - all of which are quite strong at F&M. Before finalizing his decision last year, my S visited the F&M campus 3x, and he had the opportunity to sit-in on classes and talk to a lot of students, professors and coaches. Interestingly, my S' decision involved choosing from among several of the 'competitor' schools mentioned in the original post.

    From his visits, my S knew that at F&M he would be a name and not a number. I know this sounds cliche, but F&M was the first and only school where the professors and athletic coach(es) spent a lot of time with my S during his visits, not to try and 'sell' him on the school, but to actually get to know him to help him determine whether F&M might be the right place for him - - even to the point of sending hand-written notes after each visit which included the sender's direct contact information, and an invitation for my S to call or write with additional questions.

    During each visit, my S found the professors to be caring and professional - - they knew the students by name, and he actually witnessed professors stopping students along the walkway to ask how a paper was going or how a student was doing in a particular class.

    As for the students at F&M, they seemed to be focused, engaged and passionate about whatever they were studying. There also seemed to be a great emphasis not only on study-abroad opportunities, but on helping each student find the right 'fit', in terms of study abroad or internships, or even creating their own 'customized' study-abroad or internship opportunities. At F&M, it also seemed that students had many opportunities to pursue grants for independent research and similar types of creative pursuits in their chosen field(s) of study ... the students' excitement about all of the opportunities presented to them was actually contagious, and this made my S eager to join them ...

    Now, after nearly 6 weeks on-campus, my S' impressions (and my own) of F&M have not changed. If anything, we love the school even more.

    The classes are small (as promised); and the professors truly are knowledgeable, approachable and friendly. The "House System" of governing the dorms presents even new students with many leadership opportunities; and quite honestly, the entire campus runs like an 'honors' program ... During orientation weekend, my S was invited to dinner at the home of one of his professors; and he has a seminar class in his chosen Major which takes place right in his dorm.

    Right now, my S is trying out for an athletic team, which means proctored study halls and academic interviews to ensure that his grades are good enough to make the team (which thankfully, they are!), in addition to the more physical demands of the try-outs.

    In every aspect of student life, from academics, to athletics, and from the Health Office to Greek life on-campus, the F&M faculty and administration genuinely seem to care about the students, and the kids seem genuinely happy to be at F&M ...

    The F&M campus is beautiful, many of the facilities are brand-new ... housing is ample, clean and (I believe), guaranteed for 4 years for students who want it ... the college recently completed College Row housing which includes retail shops and restaurants on the ground floor, with suite-style apartments above; and I believe the college has purchased and will continue to purchase some of the brownstones in the neighborhoods surrounding the campus with the intent of converting those to more student housing ...

    Lancaster seems to be clean, quiet and safe ... maybe not the most exciting college town, but certainly close enough to Hershey, Philadelphia and even New York if the students want to get-away for a weekend ... plus, there's an eclectic little arts community in downtown Lancaster with shops and restaurants that are within walking distance of the campus; and there certainly seems to be a lot going on on-campus to keep the kids busy.

    I'm trying to be objective here but I honestly can't think of anything negative to say about Franklin & Marshall ... and from speaking to other F&M parents during Pre-Orientation, Orientation and more recently over Parent's Weekend, I know I'm not alone in saying that F&M really is a 'hidden gem' among liberal arts colleges in the Northeast ...
  • Sally_RubenstoneSally_Rubenstone CC Admissions Expert Posts: 3,706 Senior Member
    Thanks, BrownEyes. This is really helpful, and I'm thrilled for you that your son seems to have made such a good choice.

    Any sense of whether the F&M student stereotype (preppy-ish) is somewhat true, sort of off base, way off base, etc.? I'm going to be visiting in a couple weeks, but I don't want to make snap judgments that pigeonhole students as "types" based on what I observe in one afternoon.

    Hope your son fares well with his sports try-outs. Again, thank you.

    Anyone else know F&M?
  • momreadsmomreads Registered User Posts: 3,233 Senior Member

    My husband works in Lancaster and lives there part of the year. It is a nice city. Maybe not as exciting as other college towns, but it is relatively safe. Our youngest son enjoyed the park and playground next to the campus. The school continues to expand, adding new apartments last year. Our oldest son seriously continued F & M, but has since changed his mind. He still believes it is an excellent school, but it's not for him. He has recommended it to friends, however, in search of a good liberal arts school with many research opportunities.
  • RachachaRachacha Registered User Posts: 1,266 Senior Member
    Sally - my D is applying to F&M after a visit and interview during the summer, it is one of her top choices. She wants to apply to small LAC's that are like Lafayette, my alma mater, but no way would she apply where Mom went, so she visited F&M and Dickinson, and liked F&M much better.

    She took a guided tour, she was the only one (including the tour guide) that did not come from a boarding school, but maybe that was a fluke. Judging from the campus and the students working in Admissions however, it did have a preppy elite feel to it (and for this parent the price tag matches it!), the same with the house system set-up which was Harry Potter-like to me (are you in Slytherin or Griffindor?). The new College Row looked very nice, I look forward to seeing it alive with students and activities since we did not see that during the summer.

    Like BrownEyes S, D had a talk with two coaches that was long and very informative, she felt more comfortable with them than any other coach she has talked to. They basically said that "if you are good enough to get into this school, we know that academics is going to be your first priority, we want you to come out of our program with the foundation for a life-long love of the sport" - that left both of us impressed. They said they will try to get to D's state meet this season to see her and other potential recruits.

    D is really looking forward to an overnight visit, which the team members and coaches really stressed as being important, but she cannot go until after her fall season is over. She realizes the importance of using this to judge fit, since she recently had an overnight at another top choice school that left her with new and not as positive feelings about whether she would fit in there. Please share what you find out on your visit (and other parents/students do the same!!) since we come back to this board often!
  • gitlecoeurgitlecoeur Registered User Posts: 21 New Member
    Sally, I would also be very interested in your perceptions of F&M, especially for a girl who is not interested in sports or Greek life, goes to public school, and is not preppy. Academically, the school seems like a great fit, but we are concerned about the social fit. We have similar issues about Dickinson, and would love to get a better sense of that school, too. Our sense is that Bucknell and Lafayette are farther away from what D wants (preppier, bigger frat influence), but we don't have first-hand information. Bottom line, we're eager to hear what you discover!
  • DougBetsyDougBetsy Registered User Posts: 5,830 Senior Member
    I'll be following this thread with interest. Son is trying to get info on Franklin & Marshall - Scientific and Philosophical Studies of the Mind but has come up empty so far. (He's just a HS junior, so he has only made half-hearted attempts thus far.)

    Funny, Hogwarts was the first thing we thought of when reading about the House system.

    Sally, please report back after your visit.
  • Sally_RubenstoneSally_Rubenstone CC Admissions Expert Posts: 3,706 Senior Member
    Thanks to all who replied so far. Much appreciated. I'll be happy to report back after my visit in a couple weeks, although what I'm really looking for is info that only true insiders would know and not the more superficial scoop that I'll glean from a couple hours on campus (probably with a couple of bored middle schoolers chucking a football or baseball around my head and asking when we're leaving :)).
  • boysx3boysx3 Registered User Posts: 5,164 Senior Member
    Sally, what other schools will you be visiting? Will you be visiting Bucknell, Dickinson, Gettysburg, Lafayette, Muhlenberg or Lehigh?
  • GreatGatsbyGreatGatsby Registered User Posts: 71 Junior Member
    Sally, uh, aren't you the author of Panicked Parents Guide to College Admissions?
  • Sally_RubenstoneSally_Rubenstone CC Admissions Expert Posts: 3,706 Senior Member
    Sally, what other schools will you be visiting? Will you be visiting Bucknell, Dickinson, Gettysburg, Lafayette, Muhlenberg or Lehigh?

    I'm not sure yet because this trip is being billed as a "family vacation," so it depends on how good I am at fooling my 11-year-old into thinking that multiple campus visits are part of the fun. (You can only buy ice cream or doughnuts at the snack bar so many times ;))

    Right now, of the schools you named, we're planning to see Dickinson, Lehigh and Lafayette. Probably Muhlenberg, too. Gettysburg and Bucknell will definitely be a different trip. .
    Sally, uh, aren't you the author of Panicked Parents Guide to College Admissions?

    Guilty as charged. :) (Actually, I'd like to think that it's a helpful book, but it was last updated in 2002 so it could use a facelift ... as could I. ... though neither is on any agenda.)
  • Lafalum84Lafalum84 Registered User Posts: 7,532 Senior Member
    If you decide you want inside scoop on Lafayette, let me know, as DH and I are alum and DS is a sophomore.

    I've also been hearing lots of positives about Muhlenberg, FWIW.
  • ferryboat10ferryboat10 Registered User Posts: 636 Member
    Lancaster is one of my favorite towns. Friendly residents (helpful w/ directions, car issues, etc. Once had a couple drive me from the mall into downtown to make an appt.). Supported arts scene (gallery row). Great shopping (2 independent record shops in the area. Many boutique and quirky shops. Large mall out side town.) And despite some drug problems (unfortunate that young Amish get sucked into it too), very little crime.
  • jetblack3sjetblack3s Registered User Posts: 97 Junior Member
    ^^top that
  • Joyce15Joyce15 Registered User Posts: 60 Junior Member
    My husband is an F & M graduate. (over 20 years ago) Although he thought the academics were top notch, he felt that the "greek scene", which he was part of, was devisive and gave the school a "clicky" feel. Does anyone know if the greek scene has changed? Do students still live in the houses? What percentage is greek?
  • southeasttitansoutheasttitan Registered User Posts: 1,928 Senior Member
    Why is this a featured discussion?
This discussion has been closed.